AN inquiry has been launched by the Diocese of Truro after claims that the dean of the cathedral was having an affair.

The Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, has started the inquiry to establish if there are grounds for a more formal disciplinary process. The diocese said: "The break-up of any marriage is a sensitive matter, often emotionally charged, and may involve people beyond the immediate family." It added: "As a caring organisation, the diocese has pastoral procedures that are implemented in the event that the marriage of any priest runs into difficulties.

The allegation comes the day after the Bishop of Truro Right Rev Tim Thornton confirmed the Very Reverend Dr Christopher Hardwick was taking time off to solve problems relating to his marriage. In a short statement released yesterday, Bishop Tim said: “The Very Reverend Dr Christopher Hardwick, Dean of Truro, will be taking a break from his cathedral and diocesan duties until further notice, in order to devote time to resolving personal issues relating to his marriage.

“We would ask members of the cathedral congregation and the wider Diocese to be sensitive to this situation. In the interim, we ask you to hold all those involved in your prayers.”

The Dean’s wife Linda is reported to have issued a statement saying the couple were “trying to resolve” marital problems.

Bishop Tim said it was a difficult time for the Dean and his family and asked everyone to respect their wishes for privacy whilst they dealt with “the inevitable difficulties of the days ahead.”

Dr Hardwick, 52, is a former banker who was ordained in 1992 and worked in Worcester and district before moving to Cornwall. He lives in the city with his wife Linda, a music teacher. The couple have two grown up children.